TRACING your family tree, or looking up some local history, has become a whole lot easier in Gainsborough.
And it’s all down to the hard work and dedication of the town’s heritage association volunteers.
They are painstakingly putting together databases and gathering artefacts which illustrate Gainsborough’s rich cultural heritage.
Whether you want to look up your ancestors, research one of the big Gainsborough employers, or simply look at old photos of the town, it can all be done at the new Heritage Centre in the old post office building on North Street.
The new exhibition hall is beginning to take shape after a £25,000 grant from Lincolnshire Co-op, which will allow more artefacts to be put on display.
The centre is staffed by volunteers and is currently only open on Saturday mornings from 9am to 1pm.
But association chairman Sue Edlington is looking forward to providing more opportunities for visitors.
She said: “By the beginning of 2012 we want to be open more.”
“We want to have artefacts that apply to Gainsborough and district to stay in Gainsborough, rather than people donating them to museums elsewhere.”
“We are compiling a database of births, marriages and deaths from newspapers going back to 1926 and we have files on businesses, local societies, allotments, even the chrysanthemum society.”
“We get requests for information on all sort of things.”
Sue’s own interest in local history when she started researching the history of the family company, Edlingtons, on Ropery Road, which manufactures agricultural machinery and opened in 1865.
She went on to write a book about another Gainsborough company, Rose Bros Ltd, with proceeds going to the Heritage Association, and is about to publish another about Gainsborough Parish Church CE Aided Primary School, written with her daughter Sara.
Money raised from the sales of the £10 hardback book will be used to provide central heating in the exhibition hall.
Sue said: “We’ve looked at the school’s history from right back in the 1870s to the 1980s and we’re printing 500 copies.”
“It will be available to buy at the heritage centre and on the website from the third week in November.”
“I’d like to do more books after this about famous sons and daughters of Gainsborough, the workhouse, and pubs and inns.”
The association was formed in 1994 and has about 100 members. It was based at Britannia Works which closed in 2003 when work on Marshalls Yard began.
The move into the old post office building came in February 2008 when Cliff Bradley Funeral Directors offered to let the Heritage Association use it rent-free for 20 years, with ten-year options after that.
Mr Bradley said: “I have lived and worked in Gainsborough all my life and I felt it was time to put something back.”
The Heritage Association is currently logging all the headstones in the North Warren Cemetery, used for dissenters, after receiving a £5,000 grant from Awards for All.
To contact the association call 01427 612030 or go to www.gainsboroughheritage.com.